July 6, 2012

Post-Op Delirium: The “Heart” Of the Matter

(Ivanhoe Newswire) - Delirium is common after cardiac surgery and may be associated with long-term changes in cognitive function. Delirium causes a state of confusion and disorganization of behavior in patients.  Unfortunately, post-operative (after surgery) delirium is often undiagnosed longer hospitalizations, and higher mortality rates.

Researchers from the University of Massachusetts and Harvard Medical Schools examined post-operative delirium and the cognitive patterns of patients during the first year after cardiac surgery. 225 patients 60 years and older who were planning to undergo coronary-artery bypass grafting or valve replacement were enrolled into the study and assessed daily during hospitalization, prior to surgery.

The researchers concluded that delirium is associated with a significant decline in cognitive ability during the first year after cardiac surgery, with a trajectory characterized by an initial decline and prolonged impairment.

SOURCE: New England Journal of Medicine, July 2012